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Bickel set to make NHL debut for Rangers

by Dan Rosen /
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Rangers' defense corps is battered with Steve Eminger (separated shoulder) joining Mike Sauer (concussion) and Marc Staal (post-concussion symptoms) on injured reserve. Jeff Woywitka is also going to be a game-time decision due to an injured left ankle.

However, Stu Bickel isn't complaining because the latest injury to Eminger means he'll be making his NHL debut Tuesday night against New Jersey.

Bickel, 25, was recalled on an emergency basis after Eminger suffered his injury in Phoenix over the weekend. Bickel was with the Rangers throughout training camp andwas among the final cuts, but he impressed coach John Tortorella during camp, and the scouting reports on him from the coaches with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL have all been positive.

"You have to go about it the same as any other game and play the same way," Bickel said of making his NHL debut. "I pride myself on defense, playing a defense-first game and a physical game. I don't think I'll have too much trouble fitting into the systems here."

Tortorella said Bickel understands the concepts of the Rangers' system both because he learned it during training camp and because they play the same way in Connecticut. However, there is still the issue of nerves that he'll inevitably feel before his first NHL game.

"That position is the toughest position and we're certainly going to try to help him just to calm himself down to make simple plays until he gets his feet wet," Tortorella said. "There are some little things (with the system) that we went over with him (Monday) and we will (Tuesday) morning that comes into play quite a bit with how we play defense. But we don't want to fill his mind with a bunch of thoughts. We want him to go play, and we'll help him along the way."

Tim Erixon was also recalled on an emergency basis, but he'll have to wait until closer to game time to find out if he'll get in the lineup because it's all related to how Woywitka's left foot feels. Woywitka said he felt good during the morning skate, but now he has to go to the trainers room and get some ice on it and walk around to see if the pain returns.

He said he had no strength to skate Monday, but he could move around pretty well Tuesday morning.

"We'll see what it's like before the game and then we'll decide," Woywitka said. "Today I felt more movement in it. Now we'll rest it and see what the prognosis is. I'm happy with the way it has come along."

With Woywitka's status up in the air, the Rangers defense pairings for Tuesday night are not set. However, Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal and here is what their forward lines should look like with Sean Avery and Erik Christensen as the scratches:

Brandon Dubinsky - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko - Mike Rupp - Brandon Prust
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - John Mitchell

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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